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Book Sample

Bad Things Usually Come in Threes

Goldie peered through the thickening fog at her state-of-the-art compass. There had been no sign of such bad weather when she had set out. If she was the superstitious kind she would have said it was almost as if some higher force had decided to make her journey as difficult as possible, but she wasn't and there was no way she was going to be defeated.

She decided that if she kept going north at least she she wasn't going to tumble over a precipice, even though she couldn't see more than two feet in front of her nose. It was either that or stay exactly where she was and set up camp, but even though she had the latest all-weather gear and a tiny pop-up tent, she really didn't fancy staying out all night – she wished she'd listened to the woman at the town stores and booked into the hotel for the night rather than pressing on. But hindsight wasn't going to help her current situation.

What she really needed to find was one of the old huts the guide book had mentioned, where she could light a fire and open a can of beans – assuming that they were regularly stocked up, of course, or that some opportunist hadn't just bagged the lot. She sniffed back the wetness tickling at her nose and trudged on.

It wasn't all that long before she came upon what seemed to be the start of a man-made path leading off from her left. She didn't remember having seen it on the map, but she decided that, on balance, a proper path would be more likely to lead her to safety than otherwise and she started to walk along it. It turned out to be a rather winding affair and it wasn't long before she had lost all sense of which direction she was travelling in. Lucky then that at the end of the path loomed the dark shadow of a fairly substantial looking property. A huge sigh of relief left her lips.

Goldie knocked on the heavy oak door. There was no answer but, being slightly ajar, the door creaked open a little further under the pressure. Presented with the options of an open house or a fog enveloped mountain there was no decision to take – Goldie entered.

The interior was quite homely, but in an old-fashioned, stuck-in-the-past kind of way and it certainly seemed lived in. The photograph on the wall of three young boys playing out in the fresh air indicated that maybe it was a family who lived there, although it did seem rather remote for children so young.

"Hello," she shouted, in case the knocks hadn't been heard. Her voice echoed around the rooms, but no-one answered.

After divesting herself of her rucksack and boots she wandered into one of the downstairs rooms. It turned out to be a large kitchen with a picture window which, no doubt, had spectacular views across the mountains when the days were clear. In one corner stood a sturdy pine table already laid out with three places on a bright red gingham tablecloth. Surely if there are three people living here one of them must be home, she thought, and called out once more. But still there was no answer.

She opened the fridge, hoping there might be some morsel of cheese she could nibble at, or perhaps a tasty apple pie, but all she saw were large joints of meat wrapped in copious amounts of cling film and a pot of what she assumed was home-made stock. These people clearly didn't have a very varied diet, but she reasoned that they probably needed large amounts of fatty meat to help keep out the cold of mountain life.

On the stove she noticed that there were three sturdy aluminium pots, each with a ladle propping up the lid. After a quick investigation she discovered that all three contained a hearty looking stew and came to the conclusion that someone must be testing a recipe and had made three different versions to try out on the family. Her stomach began to rumble. The pots were so full she was sure they wouldn't mind if she just had a little. She stoked up the flames to heat up one of the pots and when the stew had bubbled away for a few minutes she took the ladle and filled one of the bowls from the table.

Honestly, she thought she would probably have eaten anything she was so hungry, but as she took the first mouthful her face screwed up with distaste. Someone had been a bit heavy handed with the salt and she found it very difficult to swallow. It almost made her wonder if this was the first time the cook had even made a stew. But it didn't matter. There were two other pots. They couldn't all be that bad.

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